Jackson Druce Interview
Jackson Druce may not have the secret to life, but he is pretty damn close. At twenty-four years old he is already a successful entrepreneur living in Los Angeles with a jewelry company called XXBYJAXX. His history started in Salt Lake City where he saw the bigger picture of his life. The young dreamer knew what he wanted, but his Chrome Kandi necklaces weren't conceived right then and there. Through trial and error and a big move, he has turned a small idea into a new fashion sensation. I was fortunate enough to learn more about his journey as we discussed his booming new brand, western/punk-rock inspiration, roadblocks, and a whole lot more.
Let’s start by talking about where you are from and how it has influenced you today?
Originally born in Salt Lake City Utah and lived there until I was 22. I always knew I wanted to start a company but it wasn’t until I moved to LA when I came up with the idea of starting a jewelry company. Salt Lake has inspired me as a person in many ways, but LA really fired up my inner entrepreneur. I got tired of seeing people smoking blunts in their Roll’s Royce’s, I need to be there one day and I knew needed to take a leap and start to learn how to run and scale a business. Whether this idea is the one that gets me there or not I am taking every day as a learning experience and am excited to see what this brand teaches me as a business owner and as a designer.
At what age did you start paying attention to fashion or what you were wearing?
It wasn't until my early 20’s when I really started to care about fashion. I dabbled with streetwear back in the day when Supreme and that shit was huge but never really took it seriously, other than that I was just rocking vans and a button-up 24/7. When I was 21 I took a trip to Nashville and that’s when it really started to matter for me, I am hugely inspired by the western/punk-rock look that everyone has out there. Tons of silver jewelry, full hand of rings, layered necklaces, spikes on everything, leather jackets/vests, long hair, tattoos, boots, etc. I love that shit.
When and how did it all begin for you making and selling clothes/ jewelry?
The idea for XXBYJAXX started in late 2021 when I first came up with the concept for our Chrome Kandi necklaces. I came up with the idea of making these rave-like, pendant necklaces everyone has been wearing but making them into a full-silver piece of jewelry. I immediately made a sketch on Procreate and started sending it out to manufacturers in China. After months of perfecting and testing the product our website first went live in April of this year ( 2022).
Fashion is just an outlet for people to express who they are visually. Most people spend too much time talking and explaining themselves, my favorite type of people are the ones who throw on some crazy ass fit and let the drip do the talking.
What is it you like best about being a designer?
Making what I want to wear and then seeing it be appreciated by our supporters. I made a rule with myself when I started this brand; I promised to never sell a piece of jewelry that I wouldn't wear myself.
Talk about your brand. When was it conceived, why did you make the brand, what does the name mean, what clothes do you make and sell, etc.?
I briefly mentioned where the original idea came from already but I want to touch on the name. I’ve worked in a few fields and worked for some amazing companies in the last 6 years but one thing that always irked me was that on my biggest months as a salesman, I was only getting a tiny fraction of what I just made for the company. Making them $500k in a month and they are giving me like ~1% of that, fuck that. Hence the name ‘JAXX’, I wanted the XX project to represent the second half of my journey, I wanted this to mark the beginning of my story where I build my own companies and share my own vision/beliefs rather than preaching someone else's all day.
Is there any person/designer that you consider to be your inspiration?
Mannnnnn, yes. When I came up with the idea for the Chrome Kandi necklaces I had one person in mind the whole time, our late brother Thompson Kamara. Rest in peace to a Salt Lake legend. I would do anything for him to see these necklaces I know lil bro would lose his shit. Thompson was one of the first people I remember wearing rave-like, beaded kandi necklaces as streetwear and I always thought it was so hard, I told him all the time. Fast forward to today everyone is wearing colorful shit like that now. Bro was seriously a fashion icon in the city.
Music and fashion have always gone hand in hand? Is your brand collaborating with any artists or influenced by music?
I can’t speak too much on this right now, but we are in the process of making a collaborative piece with one of the biggest DJs in the world. Mark my words, this shit is going to create a huge wave in the EDM community. Stay tuned ;)
What is your design process? How do you work from concept to construction?
For me it all begins with a drawing. At first I had no idea where to even start to get something like this made but once I got some guidance, I learned it’s a lot easier than everyone might think. I start with a doodle to give the basic idea then go back and forth with a 3D designer to iron out all the details and make sure all the dimensions are perfect and exactly how I want them. Once we get that done I send it off to my manufacturer and get a test version made to see how it looks when everything is put together. Never would I have thought getting jewelry made could start with a 3rd grade level doodle lol.
In your opinion, what are the most critical aspects of the fashion industry?
Not giving a fuck, not listening to the negative opinions of others, and just doing what makes you happy. This goes for both designers and people that just want to dress a certain way. I believe that passion beats everything. If you are truly passionate about something, the universe will always make sure you win, it’s just a matter of time.
What's your opinion on fast fashion?
It’s inevitable and unavoidable. Trends are meant to be followed. People in the industry will give respect where it’s due and most people know where an idea originated, but there is no way to avoid big companies stealing an idea and mass-producing it. People that want high quality pieces will pay the price to buy it from the orignal source, people who don’t, won’t. I’m sure it causes pain in certain times, but for the most part I would assume most designers take it as a compliment and use it as motivation to just keep going harder with their brand.
How would you define your idea or direction in fashion?
With the XX project I really just want to bring the good vibes. I don’t know the direction we are heading yet in terms of designs but my plan is to just keep making hard shit and let the community guide the way. IMO there is a huge opening in the jewelry industry and room for hundreds of new names, we are going to be one of them.
What aspects of the fashion industry would you like to change?
I wish consumers would start paying more attention to up and coming brands and creatives in addition to supporting their favorite large-scale brands. So much amazing stuff out there and people don’t even know it exists yet. A good friend of mine actually owns an app that is helping do exactly that. I like to call it the Nordstrom of underground fashion. You can find them in the app store under AVNT or on Instagram @AVNTSPACE. Whether you are a brand owner or a just consumer make sure you follow them right fkn now! I love seeing platforms like this help create a launchpad for small brands to get their ideas in front of an audience.
There is a lot of pressure to keep coming out with the greatest collection of clothing every year. What advice would you give a young designer just starting out that wants to make it in the industry?
Take your idea, make a test version of it, and get it out to the public as fast as possible. Pay pages like AVNT to post it on IG and get real reviews from people who are in your target audience. Take these reviews and base your next move on them. People love it and want to buy it? Great, open the website for orders and start getting more made. People hate it? Great, you didn’t waste money on a bulk order and you can go back to the drawing board. In the book ‘The Lean Startup’, they refer to this methodology as your MVP (minimum viable product). The purpose to creating an MVP is to help you collect the maximum amount of validated learning about a product with the least amount of effort. Based on the reviews you get from your MVP you make moves with speed and aggression. But, at the end of the day, you need to trust your gut as a designer and if you are truly confident that what you are making will sell, then you are right. There are people out there who will trust your vision, you just need to get it in front of them. Be patient and don’t give up.
What's next for you?
So much heat coming this fall, I can’t wait! I mentioned we have a huge collaboration coming up, super stoked about that. But on top of that, we will be dropping our highly-anticipated Chrome Kandi bracelets as well as a couple new colorways for the ‘Chrome Heart’ necklace. We are always looking for ways to improve and keep our customers happy. We stay active on IG so feel free to shoot us a DM and share any thoughts or ideas you have for or about our jewelry!